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Aude[dead link] is a department in Occitanie, France.

Its tourist office promotes it as "Cathar country"; it was one of the main areas of Cathar influence until the Albigensian Crusade against them in the 13th century.

Towns and villages



  • 1 Carcassonne — this fortified medieval town is iconic in France. Though it is a genuine citadel from the 13th century with walkable ramparts and many period towers and rooms to explore, its distinctive fairytale look of conical roofs comes from a series of 'corrections' made by the 19th-century architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.
  • 2 Limoux — known for the production of a renowned sparkling wine, blanquette de Limoux and for a carnival which lasts several months.
  • 3 Narbonne — draws visitors to see its Roman archaeological site, its medieval cathedral and archbishop parade, and the canal that runs through the city
  • 4 Leucate — protected by an exceptional natural setting, it is a good spot for sea lovers, history buffs, and board sports enthusiasts


  • 5 Alaigne — a small picturesque village offering a great place to base an exploration of the Cathar country
  • 6 Bize Minervois — a quiet little village with some charm on the River Cess
  • 7 Rennes-le-Château — a hilltop village known internationally that receives tens of thousands of visitors per year, drawn by conspiracy theories surrounding a supposef buried treasure discovered by its 19th-century priest
  • 8 Talairan — a small village set in the heartland of the wine-growing Corbieres district
  • 9 Tuchan — a centre for Hautes Corbières wines, producer of Fitou, Corbières and Muscat de Rivesaltes

Other destinations




Aude is an agricultural area dominated by vineyards. In the east are the wines of Corbieres and La Clape, in the centre are Minervois and Côtes de Malepère, and in the south Limoux wine. In Lauragais grain is predominant, whereas in the Montagne Noire only sheep farming is possible. There is cultivation of olive trees for their oil.

Port-la-Nouvelle is the biggest fishing port in the department followed by Gruissan.



In the 13th century, the region saw the development of Catharism. This religion was very quickly judged as heretical by the Catholic Church. Faced with its growing strength in the counties of Carcassonne and Toulouse, Pope Innocent III in 1209 declared a crusade against the Albigensians. The barons of the north united to form an army under the command of Simon de Montfort. The city of Carcassonne became the refuge of numerous Cathars.



The autumn is characterized by violent and short storms. The summer is often hot and dry. Yet, the department has several contrasts in climate: In the north, the Montagne Noire and, in the south, the Pays de Sault, have a mountainous climate with temperatures sometimes very low in winter. In the west, the climate is under Aquitaine influence with heavier precipitation, while in the east the climate is purely Mediterranean. In the centre, in the Limouxin, Carcassonnais and Razès areas, the climate is known as intermediary with significant exposure to winds. The winds are often present in Aude. It is one of the windiest French departments, with 300 to 350 days of wind per year. This phenomenon is due mostly to the variations in relief north and south which create a kind of corridor.

Get in


By road


Two major roads cross the Aude. From west to east the A61 autoroute (Autoroute des Deux Mers) connects Narbonne and Toulouse via Carcassonne. From north to south, following the Mediterranean coast, the A9 autoroute links Montpellier with Spain.

By train


The rail network follows the same route as the road network. It is a low speed system, but a project is under way to build a fast line to Spain as part of the Trans-European Rail network.

By boat


Aude is crossed by the Canal du Midi which is a major waterway that allows tourists to pass from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It comes into the west of Aude at Seuil de Naurouze then joins the Mediterranean at Sète.

Get around




Narbonne Cathedral is a remarkable Gothic cathedral and remains unfinished. It is a symbol of the French presence in Languedoc in the Middle Ages.



The department has many castles that have been developed by the General Council of the Aude to stimulate tourism. The fortresses are often located on rocky peaks, such as the castles of Quéribus and Lastours, which gave them a strategic position. The city of Carcassonne was the logistical hub of the country at the time of conflict with the Kingdom of Aragon.

  • 1 Château de Quéribus, Cucugnan. Ruined castle Château de Quéribus (Q667763) on Wikidata Château de Quéribus on Wikipedia
  • 2 Château de Peyrepertuse, Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse. Ruined Cathar castle in the Pyrénées mountains. Peyrepertuse (Q944597) on Wikidata Peyrepertuse on Wikipedia



Many abbeys exist throughout the department of Aude. The best known are Fontfroide Abbey, Lagrasse Abbey, the abbey of Sainte-Marie Villelongue-d'Aude, and the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire.

  • 3 Abbaye de Fontfroide, Narbonne. Fontfroide Abbey (Q334263) on Wikidata Fontfroide Abbey on Wikipedia
  • 4 Abbaye de Lagrasse, Lagrasse. Lagrasse Abbey (Q334259) on Wikidata Lagrasse Abbey on Wikipedia
  • Abbaye St. Hillaire, Saint-Hilaire.



The GR 36 partly traverses the Aude.



Wine tasting. The departement is full of vineyards, and most chateau offer a no-obligation, free wine tasting session.



Aude has many caves suitable for speleological exploration. The Pays de Sault consists of one of the largest limestone areas of the Pyrenees. This geology lends itself to the formation of cavities and there are many 'barrencs' (the local name for Pit caves). This plateau is home to a cave, the TM71, which is a superb cavity classified as a natural reserve since 1987. This is unique in France.

Other natural cavities of the Aude contain concretions like the Pit cave of Cabrespine, the Aguzou Grotto, and the grotto of Limousis. The latter contains the largest block of aragonite yet discovered. In the Massif of Corbières on the plateau of Lacamp there are cavities formed by detrital rocks (marls, clays and puddingstone) carved by erosion.



The Carnival of Limoux is an Aude festival which takes place over a period of ten weeks. This is one of the longest carnivals in the world. It takes place in the town of Limoux on the Place de la République every weekend from mid-January to the end of March. It is characterized by bands in Pierrot costumes (known as les fécos) accompanied by musicians.

In the region around Limoux a major celebration of gastronomy known as Toques et Clochers (literally, "Tall Hats & Steeples') organized by the winegrowers from Sieur d'Arques' takes place over the weekend of Palm Sunday. It permits the sale of a large quantity of wine in order to enhance local patronage.



Aude is the land of rugby league (rugby à XIII) with the teams of Limoux, Carcassonne and Lézignan among the elite. Rugby union (rugby à XV) is also played in Aude. The Narbonne team (known as Racing Club Narbonne-Mediterranean) has nevertheless managed to develop in the Pro D2 championship.

Every 15 August, in Quillan, an international cycling competition takes place. This is the oldest of such contests in France. The Tour de l'Aude is one of the most important female cycling events in the calendar. It generally takes place in May.



Fréginat, a traditional type of fricasee of pork from Corbières, can be found throughout the department. It is made from pork and pig's liver with a local variety of white beans (Lingots de Castelnaudary) flavoured with garigue herbs. On the coast, eel stew (borrida d’anguilles) is a dish of choice. Finally, the cassoulet of Castelnaudary, made from white beans and sausage, is a typical dish of the Lauragais.

Other specialties exist such as oysters from Gruissan and Leucate. Olive oil is also very widespread in the Aude and is a speciality of Bize-Minervois. Cartagena is a liqueur marketed by some manufacturers. Finally, the Blanquette de Limoux is a sparkling white wine popular in the department whose origin dates back to the sixteenth century.



Wine production is extensive across Aude, and local chateaux and domaines provide free tastings as well as sales of wine and other local produce.

Aude's local sparkling white wine AOC Blanquette de Limoux is said to have been the forerunner of champagne. A more traditional variant of the blankette (sweetish, made without disgorgement and thus with sediment) has the AOC Blanquette méthode ancestrale, while the AOC Crémant de Limoux allows deviating more radically from the tradition.

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